To be quite honest, the first night in the hospital with Joseph was awkward. I made Pat go home and sleep for awhile because truthfully I was worried about our dogs and that I was already neglecting them. But, this left me alone with Joseph for the very first time. I thought he would be this person I already felt extremely comfortable around. I thought we’d catch up over breastmilk about the last 9 months like old friends. I could ask him why he hated alfredo sauce and apologize about that time I tried to eat sushi. Or get his opinion on living in our half-renovated house while Dad was away in Chicago staying in fancy hotels. I was always relieved when the nurses came into our room just so that I wasn’t totally alone with him. I didn’t know Joe well enough yet and I didn’t really know how to get to know a person that didn’t do anything but cry and sleep. I mean I don’t bond very well with people who can talk, so I’m not sure how I thought I’d get on with this little ball of newborn.
Don’t be fooled. I love him. I furiously love(d) him, but I didn’t know what to do with it or how to express that love. When we went home the next day, I remember greeting my sister at the door and she instantly held him and was loving on him. I watched her intently and thought am I doing it like that? Should I be doing more of that? I felt so much intense love for this human, but I didn’t understand where it should all go. All I could think about was how heavy it felt all the time. It didn’t go away. I felt like I was walking around carrying dumbbells on my shoulders. This love was so crazy that I wanted to redirect it somewhere else. Go away, love. I didn’t know how to handle all of it. At the time, I wish I could have put it into neat, plastic containers and stored it for times when I could wrap my head around it. Most times, I wanted to throw it away. I was having real trouble figuring out what to do with it all.
Every time he cried or made a noise, my heart exploded. It felt like someone was trying to rip it out of my chest. I couldn’t watch any shows where babies cried because I would get so worried about them and then about Joe. We watched an episode where a baby got left in a crowd and I had a serious meltdown. I am talking nose running, gulping air crying meltdown. We would go to stores and I’d hear a baby cry and I would want to run to that baby to comfort them. I felt this heavy love for ALL babies. Can you imagine? I run up to you at Hobby Lobby and ask to offer your kid one of my boobs? I was nuts. Where was my self-help book on this?
I started to psychotically think of historical events where babies were in distress. I couldn’t get my mind off of the Holocaust. I know, now you can all agree I need to get my butt to the psych ward, but seriously, I was so painfully in love that I felt guilty for how good I had it. There were mothers out there who had to leave their children and who couldn’t take care of them or keep them safe. Could there be a worse feeling? And I am over here with all new baby gear, healthy baby, abundance of food and safety, our families incessantly offering support, Pat still likes me, hell, my dogs are eating our left over pot roast for god’s sake. I am an asshole. I have it too easy. I need to be helping ALL babies and moms. Then, maybe this heaviness will lift off my mind.
I am not a person who accepts compliments or general niceness. I am also, hands down, one of the worst people at showing people how much I care because I simply don’t understand when or how that should happen. Poor Pat. Sometimes, I have to remind myself to hug him more. I care insanely deeply about the people in my life, but they all probably don’t know that. So, to have all this new love was so overwhelming and stressful. It was hard to accept, to distribute, to manage. It took me all of 6 months to start to feel the weight slowly rise away from my shoulders. Even now, my heart still twinges when Joe cries. If I find myself watching him sleep, I have to look away at times because all that heaviness comes rushing back and I get scared I won’t know where to put it all again. When he nurses to sleep, I know I’m supposed to cherish these fleeting moments with him, but it’s all too much sometimes. I have to take out my phone and post some stupid photo of my kitchen on Instagram or pin a brownie recipe, just so that I don’t start snot crying. The weight has lifted, but it is always lurking around ready to pounce. I wonder if other mother’s feel this and how they cope. I know some just organically know how to deal, but I am not that mom. I don’t think I ever will be. In the mean time, if you see me posting a picture of my dogs chewing my remote or my recent plant dying fiasco, it just means I’m over here, avoiding love.